By on June 5, 2018

2017 Toyota Sienna front quarter

2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD

3.5-liter V6, DOHC (296 hp @ 6600 rpm, 263 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 24 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $39,460

As Tested: $40,175

Prices include $940 freight charge.

Yes, you read the headline correctly — this is indeed a review, running in June 2018, of a 2017 model year vehicle. Chalk it up to other priorities (after all, writing isn’t my full-time gig) but honestly, it doesn’t really matter in this case.

Toyota hasn’t really made significant changes its minivan since the early years of the Obama administration. Sure, minor details are always tweaked year over year, but the essence of the 2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD isn’t significantly different from that of the 2011 model. And that’s not a bad thing — no matter the age, minivan owners keep flocking back to the Swagger Wagon.

Minivan Sales Chart

Take a close look (click to embiggen) at the data in the above chart if you don’t believe me. While the market for minivans has shrunk dramatically from over three quarters of a million vehicles in 2007 to 484,618 last year, the top three players have kept a stranglehold on their relative positions in the market. While FCA sells nearly one out of every two vans in the U.S., Toyota and Honda each move over 20 percent consistently, every single year. It’s a smaller pie than years ago, certainly, but it’s a loyal, steady pie indeed. Toyota is clearly doing well to maintain its position as a favorite.

2017 Toyota Sienna profile

Toyota has maintained a marketplace reputation as the standard for reliability, which has led to incredible owner loyalty. Driver controls throughout the Toyota lineup are remarkably similar, which makes moving from one model to another in the showroom an exercise in familiarity. For example, the same little cruise control stalk, jutting from the steering wheel at the four o’clock position, has been used in Toyota products for decades.

2017 Toyota Sienna interior

Similarly, many Toyota products, the Sienna included, use the same basic Entune touchscreen infotainment interface. It’s a bit dated, and occasionally is slow to respond to touch inputs, but it simply works.

2017 Toyota Sienna infotainment 2017 Toyota Sienna center stack

One perceived quality issue appeared: the sound of the doors when slammed. Perhaps I expect too much of a vehicle built by the same folks who offer vault-like door shut experiences in upmarket Lexus models, but when the kid slammed the passenger door upon school drop-off, a hollow rattle echoed through the body structure. Again, it’s likely more of a perception thing rather than an actual quality problem, but when spending over $40,000 on a car I’d hope it’d sound a little less tinny.

2017 Toyota Sienna dashboard

Toyota is an outlier in the van market with its option of all-wheel drive. In colder climates, the extra traction afforded by a second set of driven wheels is always welcome. However, the drag of the additional drivetrain and the additional 250-ish pounds blunts the fuel economy ratings by around two miles per gallon, per the EPA. The 19.2 mpg I observed in my week with the all-wheel drive Sienna was thus a bit disappointing. I’m sure that had the winter been worse here in Ohio, I’d have appreciated the grip.

2017 Toyota Sienna front seats

The driving experience was unremarkable — which in a van is a desirable trait. The newer vans from Chrysler and Honda are better insulated from road and wind noise than this Sienna, but it’s never objectionably loud, even at interstate speeds. Road imperfections are well damped, though deep potholes will be felt and heard throughout the cabin.

[Get new and used Toyota Sienna pricing here!]

Seating was quite comfortable in all three rows, though leg room was typically a bit tight in the third row for my tall frame. Most normal-sized adults would do fine in the wayback for short trips, and kids will be perfectly content back there. The second row captain’s chairs are almost too comfortable — my kids didn’t want to go back to the thinly-padded seats in my Town & Country.

2017 Toyota Sienna rear seats

Styling? Well, the Sienna has been around for most of a decade. It’s still reasonably attractive, but it’s so incredibly familiar that you’ll lose it in the parking lot or the school drop-off lane if you don’t put distinct stick family stickers in the rear window. The maroon finish on my tester seemed purpose-mixed to blend into the background.

My wife is the “cookie mom” for each of my daughters’ Girl Scout troops, which means she needs to pick up EVERY SINGLE CASE of cookies each girl in the troop sells before distributing them among the girls. We’ve found over the years that a minivan (or two) is necessary for hauling the morsels of sugar and happiness in one trip. Folding the third row, and flip/sliding the second row of seats reveals a wide load floor ready to accept plenty of stuff. The Sienna doesn’t have the flattest floor when the seats are up — a few bumps where the seats fasten can eat up a little bit of space — but we easily fit 145 cases of cookies in the roomy Sienna.

2017 Toyota Sienna front 2017 Toyota Sienna rear

I may be biased — after all, I’m one of those weirdos who is a member of TWO minivan-specific internet forums. I drive a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country daily, and have owned a pair of Honda Odysseys as well. But I’ve said it before — the minivan is the perfect family vehicle. Whether the cargo is human, canine, furniture, or lumber, the flexibility and space afforded by a low load floor and high roof make the form superior to any crossover. And the Toyota Sienna, no matter the model year, does it as well as any other van out there.

2017 Toyota Sienna rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn; Sales chart via Excel with data from GoodCarBadCar.net]

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52 Comments on “2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD Review – Well-Aged Swagger...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    I miss the ground clearance, better AWD system, and higher quality interior (with flat floor without seat ‘nubs’) of the 2nd gen Sienna. 7.5 inches of ground clearance with AWD on those 2nd gen vans, more than the latest CRV. By no means a capable offroader, but enough to get you fairly confidently down a dirt road or tame but muddy two-track to a summer cottage as I did a few years ago in a relative’s ’04 AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Has the Sienna gone to the “slip and grip” system? I had assumed because Toyota had not done a major redesign or introduced a new platform that it was still using the 2nd gen Highlander system with a default 50/50 torque split.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        For 2011 here is Toyota’s literature:

        “Active Torque Control 4WD (AWD models only)
        Automatically switches from front-wheel drive to AWD (All-Wheel Drive) according to driving conditions, helping to ensure reliable handling and stability. Examples of conditions where the system will switch to AWD are when cornering, going uphill, starting off or accelerating, and when the road surface is slippery due to snow or rain etc.”

        My understanding is that previously there was always a bit of torque being sent to the rear axle (still very heavily front biased), the 2011+ has fewer drivetrain losses but behaves more “reactively” is what I’ve heard. I don’t have any personal experience with either system to confirm or deny that claim.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          http://www.majormedia2.com/4WDSimplifiedv5/4WD.html
          I suspect the Sienna went to the more “on-demand” seen in the 3rd gen Rav4 where the rear wheels just free-wheel until slip is detected, rather than the previous Highlander/2nd gen Sienna system which was more full-time with a 3 open mechanical differentials with heavy front bias until slip is detected.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I was curious because Toyota sometimes quietly “updates” (in their eyes) something like the AWD system while changing very little else. Then other times they soldier on with the same component FOREVER even if it is the only example of said component in the lineup (ex: 4 speed auto Corolla).

        • 0 avatar
          cimarron typeR

          We have a 2012 Limited AWD model, I’m pretty sure it retains the full time awd from the Highlander and the same 3500lBS towing capacity. I’ve easily driven through 7-10 inches of snow without drama uphill with OEM RFT all seasons.
          We traded our Enclave in for it and have never cross shopped any other family hauler.
          We will probably get a 15-up Sienna in the next year for the updated/quieter interior.
          I’ll do double digit test drives for possible replacements for our other cars but we are satisfied with its execution of intended purpose and have not been interested in other brands at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            For what it’s worth I did more reading and the final word is: 2011+ Sienna went from the Highlander style mechanical center diff system that always sends at least some torque to the back to a more reactive electro-mechanical clutch engagement that is a) cheaper to make and b) more fuel efficient. I’m sure it is still plenty effective for what most Sienna owners would use it for.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            cimarron type-r, are you the type like the Sienna owner last weekend to pull up next to my ecu tuned Envision 2.0T at a stoplight when you know less than 500 ft your lane narrow and merges into mine?

            I left normal to a little late at the green light and you could see curly headed 45-year old with goatee get excited as he lunged a few feet a head of us. The I punched and rolled up to him acting pass with a 1/4 nose ahead and lifted thinking he should just take 2nd spot that has opened up by as he just got rolled passed by a Buick. But nope he is still in it and pulled back next to us, so I hit it again pulling up past him. This time his marked pavement has run out and he tucks in behind like little duck following his mother. Silly Sienna!

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      What you need is a Mitsubishi Delica, in diesel and manual of course.

      AWD? Try two-speed transfer case with rear locking diff.

      :-)

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Oh I’m quite familiar with the L300/L400 Delica families, they are a Siberian favorite, and I’ve casually looked into importing one.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        @NormaSVG650 actually I’m not that driver, I’m quite courteous as most drivers in KC are. I should say the silver minivan does allow you to cruise safely above posted limits without being pulled over.

        But are you the person who buys a poorly engineered Chinese product not even meant for American consumption and then trying turn it into some poor facsimile of a V8 powered JGC with a Trifecta tune?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The only NEW Sienna’s that I see in the local area are AWD, likely because they are the only player in that market. Of course they are bought by those with truly large families that actually need all of the passenger accommodations not merely occasional use 3rd rows.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I keep reading on forums that this generation of Sienna has the same old chassis as the previous generation. So the next generation would be the first new platform in nearly 20 years. Is that true?

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Correct, the current Sienna it’s not a whole lot different from the 2nd gen introduced back in 2003. It’s not unlike the Camry which it was based off of, which had the same basic underpinnings from 2001-2016.

      Autonews.com says the next Sienna arrives for MY2020 on TNGA, around the time the Highlander gets revised.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    What’s the towing capacity of this Sienna? Seems like it might be more than 3500#?

    Anyone have any experience towing close to the limit on a 2011-2017 Odyssey? I have towed a 1500# load and it felt fine – just wanted to know if people feel comfortable towing at the limit. I am hoping it tows well with trailer brakes but would appreciate thoughts. I have found that I feel a little better towing with a long wheel base vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Haven’t towed in our ’11 Odyssey, but on the somewhat related previous gen Pilot 2000 lbs felt like about all I would be comfortable towing. The 5 speed automatic would drop to fourth at the slightest downward movement of my foot on the freeway.

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        That sounds familiar – the downshifting at the slightest provocation. Anytime I hit a hill and I’m towing that 1500# trailer, the Odyssey downshifts. On the plus side, I get almost 20 mpg at 65 mph.

        I used to tow the same boat with a Crown Vic and the crown vic got terrible gas mileage (13-14), but it rarely downshifted. It subjectively felt more comfortable pulling the trailer.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “Toyota hasn’t really made significant changes to nearly *any of its vehicles* since the early years of the Obama administration.”

    Toyota is f***ing in a coma – soooo 2000 & late.

    What a hideous brick of a vehicle on the outside, with a cheap a$$ interior draped in lowest-cost bidder plastics.

    Woof! Woof!

    I’m sure the Toyota fanbois will soon correct me and tell’me that this is the 2nd coming and is built in a hyperbaric chamber to absolute precision using the finest materials sourced from beyond our solar system, and that it will last for a minimum of 35 years and 1,333,586 miles, even if totally neglected and driven with reckless abandon.

    TOYOTA, YOU DULL AND CHEAP AS PACKAGED RAMEN.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Hey, unlike the 4Runner debate where you were thoroughly out of your league, you won’t hear many complaints from me here. It is a thoroughly cost-cut vehicle from its previous generation. A bigger, roomier box that will hold up well with miles but it regressed in many ways. The days of “fat” supercharged AWD mid-engined Previas built to last 500k miles are long gone.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      I’m curious as to what auto manufacturer meets your standards or if there is a preference among certain brands. I think Cadillac can be safely ruled out.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I’m sure the Toyota fanbois will soon correct me and tell me {blah blah blah blah} reckless abandon.”

      Honestly DW, the only person around here prone to this kind of excessive hyperbole is you. You’ve got to be careful or you’re going to damage your brand.

      Watch out for overreach. A good example is screaming about the 4Runner being a “POS” because it doesn’t drive like a unibody and have enough superficial frosting to suit your tastes. You conflated preference with quality there, and claiming a current Ford Explorer with the right modifications is just as good offroad left me shaking my head.

      So chill. Yes, this van is dull and cheap as packaged ramen, but that is exactly what the wrapper says is inside. They’re not really betraying customers here.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Name a single, current production model Toyota – Landcruiser excepted – that you can honestly claim is exciting, viscerally appealing, and/or built to the same outstanding level in terms of materials, no expense spared NVH suppression, attention to details large and small (dampers, hinges, seals, switchgear, etc.), ride quality, and overall total goodness, and leagues above the competition, as a 1993 MY or even 1998 MY Camry, 1998 MY Corolla, the best years of the MR2 or Supra, or a 1998 MY Avalon.

        As I said, Toyotas have been hollowed out and cheapness, inside to outside, top to bottom, consistently, year after year since approx 2000, depending on model, and this hollowing out and cheapening has accelerated especially post-2005ish.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I can’t speak to the rest of the car, but I’m happy that Toyota offers a 300hp V6 in the Camry for a segment where a 2.0T is now the “big motor”.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          DW, there isn’t one. Because they don’t charge 1993 prices anymore. What you get instead is utility and general reliability with the frosting scraped off at a far lower price. That’s very boring and there’s little in their lineup I’d shell out for new, but it is as advertised. If you don’t like the cheaper interior and don’t find their minivan or CUV “viscerally appealing” (O_o), then that is apparent on the test drive.

          Or, you could let a squishy stitched dash and lovely door close convince you that the underlying mechanicals are top notch. That worked for the MkIV VW…briefly. I don’t lease so I wasn’t going for that gamble on a Grand Cherokee over my 4R.

          Incidentally, outside the LX platform and Durango, is there a car that earns the DW seal of approval? If I wanted an alternative to the 4R, or automatic midsize sedan, what is DW’s top pick?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          DW I don’t at all disagree with the direction of Toyota’s quality over the years. These days buying a Toyota you still get the basic goodness of a solid drivetrain/ancillary components, but it’s service without the smile. Paint quality has gone down a lot (common to most Japanese makers it seems), and especially interior quality has tumbled precipitously. But like 30-mile stated, American consumers only want to pay $20k for a basic midsize sedan, not the inflation-adjusted $30k that the legendary XV-10 4cyl Camry LE cost in 1992. If you want a really nice Camry that’s more like the 90s ones, Toyota will gladly sell you an (ugly) Lexus ES.

          As far as fun or exciting vehicles, I’d argue the 4Runner TRD Pro in orange or battle ship grey is a prime example. FR-S that everyone clamored for then ignored, higher up the food chain the RC and LC500.

          No one misses the peak 1990s Toyotas more than me, my solution is simply to buy and enjoy the 1990s cars and b*tch on TTAC about how bad the interiors and paint on the new ones have gotten :p

          For the upcoming winter beater season a pre-facelift VX20 Camry or pre-facelift 1st gen Avalon are at the top of the list.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          +2, 30-mile & gtem. What you say is almost a cliche at this point, but it’s very consistent with the experience my family has had with four Toyota/Lexus products dating back to 1995 and the ’93 model year.

          And I agree on the RC, gtem. I know part of it is that my perception is getting warped by the ugliness of the market in general, but I kind of like the looks of the RC. I could see myself getting a low-spec, CPO one. (The 2.0T is plenty of engine for the crawling in traffic that I do.)

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The first time I saw an RC on the street I was quite smitten. Maybe if my wife and I move to a place with nicer roads I could consider scooping up a used one at some point. Odd as it sounds, I loved how it looks in beige. Reminds me of the good old SC300. F Sport package looks sharp too.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Is that the configurator’s “Flare Yellow,” or did they have a different color in previous years? It looks weird on the website, but I don’t necessarily doubt your in-person impression. After all, we live in a world where the Buick Cascada actually looks pretty good in person despite how horribly it photographs.

            I know this has been whined about in previous threads, but I hate that the RC 200t now is called the RX 300. “Bigger number better! Derp!” [eyes rolling]

            If you like sardonic reviewers, Savagegeese’s takes on the RC 350 and RC 200t are worthwhile. He’s a bit snarky but also pretty informative.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qhV2MQ6Qyw

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukS35W_2NlI

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Agree with the sound of the doors closing. I had a 2006 Sienna for 10 years prior to buying the 2016. The 2006 seemed more solid when it came to the doors and I really miss the cubby holes under the door armrests. No issues in 150,000 miles on the 2006. I hope this one last that long. Pretty proven engine-trans combo in the 2016.

    One of the reasons the second row is better than the Town and Country is the thicker cushions which gives your upper legs more support. Can’t stow them, though, and they are heavy to remove. The 2006 also had a flatter floor when the seats were removed, this one retains the seat track hardware which causes an uneven floor.

    • 0 avatar
      MGS1995

      I agree with all about de-contenting and lower quality. We had a 2006. In 2016 it had 200k miles on it and we looked at a new one. One drive and the wifey said no way, this thing is junk. Everything seemed flimsier. So I found a low mileage 2010 (last year of previous body style) and she’s happy as a clam.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    My mother’s 2003 Sienna was unbelievably high quality. She drove it in this high-salt area for 287K kms (~175K miles) without a single problem, no rust, and donated it last year to the Cancer Society for patient transport. It’s still trucking for them. She only had to buy the usual replaceable things, and did the timing belt as needed. No repairs. I don’t know if they still build them like that, but if they do run out and buy one. Her cost per year of ownership was pennies.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep the gen 2s are freaking tanks. The only common problem I’ve heard of is power steering rack leaks, and the first few years of the 2GR-FE had some sort of oil return line on the back of the block that could leak.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    My wife has been leaning on me to get a Sienna for years. All i got to do is sell my NSX and my X3. The primary motivation is that an old dog will be able to climb in easily. :-(

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Our 2017 Sienna SE is a mixed-bag compared to our previous 2014 Odyssey EX-L. My wife dislikes it so much that she could be in favor of ending the lease early! Honda’s weird styling aside, in this segment, it’s the little things that win the day and IMHO Honda does it better.

    Our 14 Oddy and the Sienna were contemporaries in terms of design, so I’m not really comparing an old product to a new one. As George Carlin said ” I don’t have pet peeves, I have major psychotic effin’ hatreds” and these are mine with the Toyota:

    – Toyotas seat tracks are obnoxious and the Weathertech mats can’t help protect too much of the floor due to the tracks. (but the WT’s are much better than the OEM cloth or rubber mats). It’s nice the seats slide in a way, but whenever we needed to carry immense objects in the Odyssey, we just planned ahead and took the seats out.

    -The eighth passenger seat ( middle of second row), when removed, leaves a cup holder/cubby in place. However, you can’t crawl to the back without stepping in the cup holder, especially if you are a seven year old boy. This makes it a dirt magnet and disgusting, even if not used for drinks.

    -The flip-fold third row cuts into the floor of the rear cargo well due to the design of the seats bottom. If you spill something bulky back there, you never get it out.

    – The damn door hollow rattle mentioned in the article here when you close the doors is not acceptable in a 43k vehicle.

    -Contrary to the author, I find the Entune system is absolute garbage. Just give me simple connections or Apple car play and be done with it. Don’t make me have an app just to fully use the ICE in my car, Toyota.

    – The V6/ 8 spd auto is decent, but very busy, especially in Pittsburghs hills. At 13k, it’s gotten weird at times and has shifted with a bang at low speeds. Switching off the “Eco” mode helps, but must be done every time you start the vehicle. I appreciate manual control of the gears, but with eight of them, it’s best to leave it in D.

    It’s nice, on paper, to have “almost 300hp” on tap. But in a giant vehicle, the power peaks are so high it’s not like it’s worth it. Having had two vehicles now with turbos tuned for low-end power, I’d rather have a 250hp turbo 4 with a 2000 rpm torque peak than a 300hp v6 with a 4000rpm torque peak.

    – The interior is too cheap in a 43k vehicle. The opening rear-quarter windows in the back are nice, Honda doesn’t do that. But on the XLE and certain LE packages, they’re power adjusted. On the SE, they are manual, as in pop-out. A friends 86 Voyager back in the day had knobs in the ceiling to open and close these!

    The rear seat ( third row) is covered in an awful vinyl that feels like a vinyl/neoprene cross. The Honda had “real” leather back there or at least the same as the second row seats. Too cheap, again, in a 40k vehicle.

    I like the style of the SE we have, a shame Honda can’t do an Odyssey Si or something like that. I know what you’re thinking, but driving the SE back to back with an LE, there was a noticeable difference. And I’ve gotten more compliments on the style than anything.

    The Maintenance Minder system can only be reset by the dealer. It goes off at 5k just for a tire rotation, so you must take it in.

    All these little things add up to no more Toyotas here.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “The Maintenance Minder system can only be reset by the dealer. It goes off at 5k just for a tire rotation, so you must take it in.”

      Are you sure?

      seventrumpet.com/2016-2017-2018-toyota-sienna-oil-maintenance-light-reset/

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Huh, that easy? I could find nothing on the interwebz that simple 8 months ago. But we also have the Toyota Care as part of the lease and I figured 5k was oil change time too. It was not. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Gear, I’m curious how the Sienna made it through the test drive phase. Just about everything you describe would have been apparent long before reaching the F&I office.

      Minivan transmissions worry me. Adding 1000lbs of curb weight and higher payloads to the gearbox used in a midsize sedan seems risky.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        It was like my Altima. It seemed OK at the beginning, but at the end, I didn’t like it so much. The Toyota is the same way, these issues weren’t as obvious initially but after a year, they’re extremely irritating.

        We were kinda stuck too. Our Honda lease was expiring and we didn’t want to lease a ’17 Oddy because it was the same as our 14. My wife didn’t like Pacifica or the elderly Town and Country, nor the Kia. We could have extended our lease, but the Honda needed tires, inspection and oil change. Didn’t feel like putting couple hundred dollars into a car we weren’t keeping.

        To top it off, we didn’t know and no one could tell us when the 18 Oddy was going to appear (it was two months after we leased the Sienna. Of course!) and I really didn’t want first year, especially first few months of production. I’ve not had a modern Toyota, my folks had an 04 Lexus RX that served them well, plus other Toyotas. I wanted to give Toyota a chance and we liked the style of the SE, plus it drove better than the LE or XLE vans.

        We still like it for the style, but not for it substance. I’d love if VW brought me a van (that fits in a garage) but this will not happen.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          And to be fair, the Oddy developed some quirks that had us not loving it by the end of its lease. But those, in hindsight, pale compared to our dislike of the Toyota not even halfway through its lease.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    I enjoyed this review. I don’t recommend the Sienna to friends and family unless you really really feel the need to trade in your vehicles every few years because they’re worn out. Our 2004 is over 430K miles and runs and looks great. While not the same generation as the reviewed van, I would venture that the 3.5 motor will hold up well if our 270K mile 2007 Avalon is any indication. Three radiators, three timing belts, one A/C compressor, one starter, and a steering u-joint are the only things replaced -besides tires and brakes and batteries. The check engine light has been on for about 250K miles-said to be bad cats-we never bothered to fix as it runs great and still gets 22mpg. Oh, the power sliding doors haven’t worked in a long time-but with out kids grown-its not a big deal. Almost no rust-and we live in MI. My wife hated it when it became her daily. Now it’s a member of the family and she won’t let me get rid of it. We take long trips regularly and the old girl just keeps chugging. I do keep the title in the glove box-in case we need to dump it in a hurry.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    I gotta say I am a Toyota fanboi just like gtem, and am completely and utterly horrified at what the company has become of late. I never even considered other brands for years.

    I’ve got one of the first Sienna’s ever sold, an late 1997 production 1998 XLE model. The last Toyota built in the vein of the 1992 Camry. Glass headlights, several hundred pound (feeling) doors and rear hatch. Soft touch EVERYWHERE, and the plastic that is there, super high quality. Everything overbuilt save the plastic door handles.

    The car they are making now, the “Sienna” is almost as big a joke as the Tacoma with its plastic pickup bed. They are phoning in their vehicles to a point that even regular people are going to start noticing, and soon.

    Case in point, my lady is deciding between two cars right now, Infiniti Q50s, and 2018 Camry XSE. Both 300hp, cost around 38k pseudo sports sedans. One has door panels and interior quality on par with the 1990s era Lexus products, the other…cheap plastic with some fake stitching on the dash to pretend its an upscale car. Yes, the Camry will last 20 years, the Infiniti will be lucky to last 10, but that I am strongly considering it, nay favoring it, is a testament to how bad Toyota has gotten. What good does 20 year reliability do when you don’t want to sit in the little tykes interior that long. I’d rather get a MaxCare or CPO warranty on the much better in every other way Infiniti, and have a blast until it expires, then upgrade to new.

    And that philosophy is the dead opposite of the one I’ve had all my life. Its really sad to be honest. That’s why I fell for Toyota in the beginning: they were a quality car you could buy for life, and keep literally forever until YOU personally wanted to upgrade, on YOUR terms. Now Toyota makes such cheap flimsy interiors, without changing dull/FWD driving dynamics, that I am stuck entering the rat race of the disposable car, because the disposable car is such a nicer place to spend 10 years. Even if at the end of that time, it’s only fit for the scrap heap on its terms.

    My 2015 Scion XB will be my last Toyota product. It’s a cheap car with a cheap interior, but at least its a cheap car.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “I gotta say I am a Toyota fanboi just like gtem, and am completely and utterly horrified at what the company has become of late. I never even considered other brands for years….

      …I’ve got one of the first Sienna’s ever sold, an late 1997 production 1998 XLE model. The last Toyota built in the vein of the 1992 Camry. Glass headlights, several hundred pound (feeling) doors and rear hatch. Soft touch EVERYWHERE, and the plastic that is there, super high quality. Everything overbuilt save the plastic door handles.

      The car they are making now, the “Sienna” is almost as big a joke as the Tacoma with its plastic pickup bed. They are phoning in their vehicles to a point that even regular people are going to start noticing, and soon….

      …What good does 20 year reliability do when you don’t want to sit in the little tykes interior that long. I’d rather get a MaxCare or CPO warranty on the much better in every other way Infiniti, and have a blast until it expires, then upgrade to new.

      And that philosophy is the dead opposite of the one I’ve had all my life. Its really sad to be honest. That’s why I fell for Toyota in the beginning: they were a quality car you could buy for life, and keep literally forever until YOU personally wanted to upgrade, on YOUR terms. Now Toyota makes such cheap flimsy interiors, without changing dull/FWD driving dynamics, that I am stuck entering the rat race of the disposable car, because the disposable car is such a nicer place to spend 10 years. Even if at the end of that time, it’s only fit for the scrap heap on its terms.

      My 2015 Scion XB will be my last Toyota product. It’s a cheap car with a cheap interior, but at least its a cheap car.”

      Thank you for your incredibly refreshing honesty as self-admitted Toyota loyalist and long-time Toyota owner (many vehicles).

      Your testimony is 100% consistent with my criticisms, observations and experiences with Toyota vehicles from approx 1992 to today.

      Toyota executives (all the way up to the head of the company and descendant of the founder) are committing branding, product development, design, and corporate malpractice, as well as depraved heart murder of the Toyota pedigree/namesake/goodwill.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Hey I’m with Matador AND you on the quality side of things (material quality especially), I’ve recently regaled the B&B about the flimsy glovebox handle on my in laws’ ’13 Rav4 Limited that broke with 60k miles on the car. It’s a cost-cut hellscape. Where our opinions diverge is a) driving dynamics of the 4Runner and what its place is in the marketplace and b) acknowledging how much cheaper Toyotas have gotten once inflation is accounted for. If Toyota could put $7k more into paint and interior materials and other details into the current ’18 LE ($23k MSRP), you could indeed go right back to 1992 levels of overbuilt-ness. In the mean time I’m just going to keep hunting around for clean 1990s Toyota products to buy and enjoy.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Had one as a rental because apparently it counts as a “Ford Escape or Similar.” Was pleasantly surprised by the pep. It’s no sports car, but no slouch either.

    I’m more or less a lifelong devotee for the full size SUV, but I will say a top level Sienna is a darn comfortable vehicle for families. Although, a 2-3 year old Suburban Lt 4WD can be had for about the same price.

  • avatar
    markf

    I have a 2001 XLE. It has held up well. Overall I like the van and it does what it was designed to do. The JBL stereo/DVD is really nice but the Bluetooth is terrible. Whoever designed it should be forced to spend the rest of their life trying to add a phone.

    There are a few annoying squeaks and rattles and the plastic on the upper door panels is terrible, rock hard. The rest of the plastics are ok. The dash is shaped like a Nike “Swoosh” (fixed in 2012) Stupid but at least there are actual HVAC buttons. It eats tires/brakes but has been completely reliable. I get around 24 on the highway and average 20 around town. It is a FWD model and works great in the winter with a good set of snow tires. (I think I have the only FED model in Colorado)

    I would never usually buy new but I got it as a leftover in 2012 while overseas through military auto sales. No sales tax, regular warranty and US Specs. Bonus, since it was sold overseas the NAV was eliminated, dropping another $1900 off the price. (I believe it was standard with the XLE)

    It is an appliance but that is what minivans are. I don’t mind driving and it is comfortable on long drives.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Fair review. This minivan is far from perfect, but it’s very, very good in most respects, and is the only show in town, when it comes to AWD minivans.

    No vehicle has greater “range” than a minivan, though I’d happily have paid $5k more to get one with the torquey inline six engine from my XC60 R-Design!

  • avatar
    makuribu

    It’s the middle row seats that killed the Sienna for me. My kids are in their early/mid teens, slender of build and a little over 5 feet tall. Both of them found the middle row head restraints pushed their heads forward at an uncomfortable angle. If you’re taller and fatter, as I am, your body thickness will keep your head lined up properly with the restraint. In one used ’17 Sienna I tried, the headrest (uh, restraint) had been turned backward by a previous user. That modification of a safety device will get you into legal/insurance trouble in the event of an injury. Similarly, tilting the seat back too far means that in an accident the seatbelt will ride up over your hip bones and crush your internal organs.
    The sales person at the dealership tilted the seat backs slightly and advised the girls to not wear their hair in a bun. Great.

  • avatar
    wheeler

    No good when compared to previous 1998 and 2006 6 speed trans versions. I have developed a phobia for anything but flat roads. Around town, a slight incline at slow speeds, i.e. 1000-1500 rpm produces a slow and jerky acceleration in 2nd and 3rd. Add jerky upshift/ downshifts at higher road speeds. Peppyness of previous versions was fun. But two dealers are at a loss to correct it, with no factory help forthcoming.
    Manually shifting has become the only consolation.
    Eight speed 2018 is said to have no remedial updates.

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